A TRIAL of a Greenock man charged with hurling abuse at his neighbours at Christmas couldn't proceed — because his lawyer was absent.

Solicitor Andrew Kennedy was supposed to be representing accused William Bonnar, but he was nowhere to be seen when the case called at the sheriff court.

The Telegraph understands that a number of criminal cases he had been involved with have been passed to other solicitors who are currently not ready to proceed with them.

Prosecutor John Penman was forced to accept a motion to adjourn the Bonnar trial — for which the alleged victims are described as 'vulnerable witnesses' — until December.

It means that the matter will not now be dealt with until nearly two years since Bonnar was arrested and charged by police on Christmas Day in 2019.

Mr Penman, addressing Sheriff Michael Higgins on the state of affairs, said: "I have to be careful what I say next — the situation is wholly unsatisfactory.

"I had to put two vulnerable witnesses on standby [to attend court] today.

"I have correspondence from Kennedy & Co dated September 18 2020 intimating a plea of not guilty, but I don't even know if the accused Mr Bonnar has ever appeared in court on this matter."

Solicitor Aidan Gallagher — who has stepped in to take on the case — told the court: "I hesitate to say that I appear [for Bonnar] but I do.

"I have checked for legal aid which was negative and I have no disclosure [of evidence] for this case.

"I haven't seen Mr Kennedy since March of last year."

Mr Gallagher added: "I am duty bound to make a motion to adjourn the trial to allow me to make further enquiries.

"I am simply not in a position, standing the very limited information I've been given, to proceed.

"It was only the other day that I was made aware of this case."

Accused Bonnar, of Regent Street, is charged with banging on his neighbours' ceiling during alleged foul-mouthed rants on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day 2019.

Prosecutors say he made 'offensive religious and disablist' comments and placed the man and woman in a state of fear and alarm.

Bonnar had been placed on a bail order not to approach or contact the couple in any way 12 days previously.

Sheriff Michael Higgins said: "In the circumstances, where it is far from clear whether Mr Bonnar even knows about the [trial] diet, I will grant the motion to adjourn."

The case is due to call again on November 2, ahead of a planned re-scheduled trial on December 2.